Donors with money, special software for electronic medical records and Ebola make for disastrous bedfellows. It was only a matter of time…
What really happened?
Here’s what I can tell you for sure: Texas Health contracts with Epic Systems for its electronic medical records system — and the Dallas hospital isn’t the only client that has complained about its costly informationsharing flaws and interoperability failures.
Epic was founded by billionaire Judy Faulkner, a top Obama donor whose company is the dominant EMR player in the U.S. health care market. As I reported last year, Epic employees donated nearly $1 million to political parties and candidates between 1995 and 2012 — 82 percent of it to Democrats. The company’s Top 10 PAC recipients are all Democratic or leftwing outfits, from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (nearly $230,000) to the DNC Services Corporation (nearly $175,000) and the America’s Families First Action Fund super-PAC ($150,000).
Faulkner, an influential Obama campaign finance bundler, served as an adviser to David Blumenthal. He’s the White House health information technology guru in charge of dispensing the federal electronic medical records subsidies that Faulkner pushed President Obama to adopt.
Faulkner also served on the same committee Blumenthal chaired.
Epic and other large firms lobbied aggressively for nearly $30 billion in federal subsidies for their companies under the 2009 Obama stimulus package. The law penalizes medical providers who fail to comply with the one-size-fits-all mandate. Obama claimed the new rules would cut costs and reduce errors. But health care analysts at the RAND Corporation admitted last year that their cost-savings predictions of $81 billion a year were vastly inflated.
Until recently, health care providers say, the company stubbornly refused to share data with doctors and hospitals using alternative platforms. Now, it charges exorbitant fees to enable the very kind of interoperability the Obama EMR mandate was supposed to ensure.
The president-elect of the American Medical Association, Dr. Steven Stack, told Modern Healthcare magazine that Epic’s software architecture “often leaves out key information and corrupts data in transit.”
Yikes. Imagine if some of that key data had to do with an Ebola carrier’s travel history. Oh, wait.